The Long March is probably the best known event of the Chinese Civil War. The Communists have nuil an elaborate mythology about the Long March. Mao proved a master of public relatiins from an early point. Driven out of his base in central China by the Nationalists (1934), desperate flight was turned into a triumpgh-- the Long March. He departed with 80,000 men, women and children on a 9,650-kilometre trek to join forces with the Communist Red Army in the south. He left a trail of dead and crippled bodies along a frozen route. He lost all but 10,000 of his followes. He was carried on a litter, but told fawning journalists that he walked most of it 'like the rank and file'. [Chang and Halliday] He wanted to be seen like other Communist leaders as a man of the people.
Chiang continued to be reluctant to confront the Japanese. He was determined to first destroy the Communists. He launched the fourth KMT offensive (1933). He committed more than 0.5 million KMT troops. The Japanesestruck again, this time in Jehol in North China. Chiang drew back from his offensive againsrt the Communists, but still decided not to confront the Japanese. Insted, Chiang planed a fifth KMT offensive against the Communisdts. His German military advisers developed new tactics. Chiang committed a million man army to the operation. They surrounded Communist-controlled areas, building fortified blockhouses and instituting an economic blockade. They managed to seal off the Communists. Communication and trade were cut. The CPC found that their guerilla tactics were not effective. They were unable to stage unexpected attacks and quickly retreat. The KMT blockade, resulted in food shortagew. Obtaing salt became a serious problem. Disease outbreaks occurred. CPC members and soldiers were becoming physically weak. The KMT squeezed the CPC into a small part of their original territory.
Finally the CPC decided to abandon their bases in Kiangsi and attempt a breakout. The Red Army and CCP members including Mai and Zhou, numbering perhaps 100,000 people, broke through the KMT encirclement and started the Long March (late-1934). This epic movement would eventually cover 6,000 miles. As the Communists escaped, they were chased by KMT forces. They marching by different route.
. As the Communists escaped, they were chased by KMT forces. Marching by different routes, the Communists finally reached Shensi, after more than a year, in late 1935 There they established a new Soviet Republic inYenan.
Mao and Zhou with a part of the CPC force managed to break out.
They executed an epic year-long, 6,000-mile fighting retreat--the Long March (1934-35). Suronded by KMT forces, Mao led the Long March and established the Communists in northwestern China. They began with about 100,000 people. After a year and 6,000 miles they were down to 6,000-8,000 people. Par of the problem for the ebattled Communists was that Mao was unsure just where to head. They began in Jiangxi Province, about 400 km northeast of Guangzhou. They headed west, past Guilin, and into Yunnan province, in southwest China.
They would have set up base there, however, the local warlords were generally hostile.
Of the original 100,000 Red Army/CPC members who began the Long March, only an estimated 5,000 people managed to complete the full length of the March. The Long extended an amazing 5,000-6,000 miles as they did not move in straight line. They moved through 12 different provinces. They crossed 18 mountain ranges and 24 rivers without bridges. A sympsthetic American journalist writes, the Long March was "one of the great triumphs of men against odds and men against nature." [Snow]
A major factor in the CPC success was that the Communists moved along mountainous borders of provinces like Hunan, Kwangtung and Kwangsi, where KMT forces were weak and local war lords were hesitant to commit forces. KMT provincial leaders were for the most part former warlords. Most preferred to preserve their own forces rather than confront an armed party whuich was not an immediate threat. The warlords primarily defended the cities. This left the Communists more or less free to move throuh the countryside.
As a result, at Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, Mao decided to turn north, past Chengdu in Sichuan province, and eventually ended up in Shaanxi, near Yan'an. They mannaged to reach remote areas of northwestern China where they set up secure bases. Here beyond the effective reach of Chiang and the KMT, the Communists began to develop a secure base. Here after more than a year of movement they established secure bases and a new Soviet Republic in Yenan.
And they were able to fight off KMT offenses.
The KMT moved to establish control in the formerly CPC-held areas. The cost to the KMT for the military campaigns aggainst the CPC extermination campaigns was very high. The KMT Government was unavle gto address China's very serious social and economic problems. This was an important factor that would eventually play a role in the KMT's downfall after World War II. Japan's aggressive policies in China were encouraged by the conflict between the KMT and the Communists, seeing it as weakening the KMT. Domestically many Chinese were critical of the KMT policy of fighting the CPC rather than the Japanese. Thus the social undepinnings of the KMT were weakened.
The Long March also had a profound impact on the CPC. The Long March is probably the best known event of the Chinese Civil War. The Communists have nuil an elaborate mythology about the Long March. Mao proved a master of public relatiins from an early point. Driven out of his base in central China by the Nationalists (1934), desperate flight was turned into a triumpgh-- the Long March. He departed with 80,000 men, women and children on a 9,650-kilometre trek to join forces with the Communist Red Army in the south. He left a trail of dead and crippled bodies along a frozen route. He lost all but 10,000 of his followes. He was carried on a litter, but told fawning journalists that he walked most of it 'like the rank and file'. [Chang and Halliday] He wanted to be seen like other Communist leaders as a man of the people. Mao's propaganda fixtated the idea with Mao that men with a strong will and revolutionary consciousness could surmount material limitations. This was not unlike the thought process of Hitler and the Japanese militarists. It was quite different than Marxist doctrine that saw history as driven by economic forces and not human spirit. Mao came to the conclusion that strong-willed men could direct history. This would be seen in his important inituatives like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The experience created among the survivors a sence of fraternal brotherhood that would unite the CCP leadership behinf Mao. Some of the Long March experiences fit neatly into Communist ideology, including unending struggle, selflessmess, heroic sacrifice, and courage. Communist ideology today in China has little appeal. The Long March on the other hand is still venetated by the Chinese people. The heroic account of endurance and fighting continue to resonate with the Chinese who celebrate the 'Yenan spirit'..
Participation in the Long Marcher became a badge of honor within the Party. Deng Xiaoping who played a major role in reorienting China was a Long Marcher. With Deng's passing, there are few, if any Long Marchers left in the Party elite. The CCP Long Marchers who survived were filled with a fervent sense of mission. They saw themselves as the chosen few selected by fate to to carry on the sacred mission of revolution.
It was during the Long March that Mao Zedong> emerged as the preminent leader of the Chinese Communists. When the Communists reached the town of Tsunyi in Kweichow, Mao and his supporters challenged the leadership of the Sovietsupported returned students'. Mao criticized them for failed policies that they adopted in the Kiangsi base. This allowed Mao regained the top position in a collective leadership. Mao was not, however, an absolute dictator like Stalin. Mao graduallu aspired to be an absolute dictator. It would be criticism of his leadership years later that would promt the Cultural Revolution, an attempt to purge his critics. Mao brought China into the modern age. It was as a Communist state with all its failings, an effient economy and a complete indiference to indivividual rights. As a result, Mao was responsible for an enormous loss of life, greater than that caused by the Jaopanese invaders in China or Hitler and Stalin in Europe. After Stalin died, he turned against Khrushchev and the Siviet Union, determined to make China totally indepedent. He attempted to create a personal dictarorship like Stalin, but unlike the basicaly aestetic Stalin and Hitler, sought to lead a headenous private life style with numerous affairs with young women. [Pantsov]
Pantsov, Alexander V. Mao: The Real Story (2012).
Snow, Edgar. Red Star Over China.
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